United States District Court, D. Maryland
Richard D. Bennett United States District Judge
2009, pro se Petitioner James Dinkins
("Petitioner" or "Dinkins") and two
co-defendants were tried together and convicted of multiple
charges relating to the murder of government witnesses, the
murder of a co-conspirator, and several narcotics and
firearms-related offenses arising from their involvement in a
drug-trafficking organization in Baltimore. Subsequently,
this Court sentenced Petitioner along with his co-defendants
to life imprisonment on multiple counts. (ECF No. 340.) On
appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth
Circuit affirmed this Court's Judgment. (ECF No. 429;
United States v. Dinkins, 691 F.3d 358, 362 (4th
pending is the Petitioner's fourth Motion to Vacate, Set
Aside, or Correct Sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255,
arguing that he is entitled to relief pursuant to the United
States Supreme Court's holding in Sessions v. Dimaya,
__ U.S. __, 138 S.Ct. 1204 (2018). (ECF No. 546.) As
with the Petitioner's second and third Motions to Vacate
under § 2255, the Government argues that the Motion
should be denied as a second or successive Motion that has
not been authorized by the Fourth Circuit. (ECF No. 550.)
Having reviewed the parties' submissions, this Court
finds that no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule
105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons discussed herein,
Petitioner's Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct
Sentence (ECF No. 546) is DENIED.
twelve-day jury trial, Petitioner Dinkins was found guilty of
conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to
distribute controlled substances, in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§ 486 (Count I); witness tampering and aiding and
abetting, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512 and 18 U.S.C.
§ 2 (Count IV); three counts of possession and
discharging of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking
crime and aiding and abetting, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 924(c) and 18 U.S.C. § 2 (Counts V, VII, VIII);
and two counts of knowingly causing the death of a person
through the use of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 9240 and 18 U.S.C. § 2 (Counts VI, IX).
(Judgment, ECF' No. 340.) This Court then sentenced
Dinkins and his two co-defendants to life imprisonment on
several counts. (Id.) The Petitioner and his
co-defendants appealed their Judgments, which the Fourth
Circuit affirmed. (ECF No. 429; United States v.
Dinkins, 691 F.3d 358, 362 (4th Cir. 2012).)
August 23, 2013, Petitioner filed his first Motion to Vacate,
Set Aside, or Correct Sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
2255, arguing ineffective assistance of counsel and
additional vague, conclusory arguments. (ECF No. 437.) This
Court denied that Motion on December 16, 2013, denied the
Petitioner a Certificate of Appealability, and subsequently
denied the Petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration. (ECF
Nos. 452, 455.) Petitioner appealed these denials to the
Fourth Circuit, which denied Dinkins a certificate of
appealability and dismissed the appeal. (ECF No. 467;
United States v. Dinkins, No. 14-6089, 569 Fed.Appx.
159, 160 (4th Cir. Apr. 29, 2014).)
March 21, 2014-while Petitioner's appeal of his first
§ 2255 Motion was pending-Petitioner filed a second
§ 2255 motion. (ECF No. 462.) As this Court explained,
under 28 U.S.C. § 2255:
A second or successive motion must be certified as provided
in section 2244 by a panel of the appropriate court of
appeals to contain- (1) newly discovered evidence that, if
proven and viewed in light of the evidence as a whole, would
be sufficient to establish by clear and convincing evidence
that no reasonable factfinder would have found the movant
guilty of the offense; or (2) a new rule of constitutional
law, made retroactive to cases on collateral review by the
Supreme Court, that was previously unavailable.
28 U.S.C. § 2255(h). Petitioner had not received the
proper certification from the Fourth Circuit for this Court
to entertain a second or successive motion. Therefore, on
March 31, 2014, this Court denied Petitioner's Second
Motion to Vacate and denied Petitioner a Certificate of
Appealability. (ECF No. 463.) On April 30, 2014, Petitioner
filed a third § 2255 Motion,  which this Court again
denied as a second or successive Motion without authorization
from the Fourth Circuit. (ECF No. 469.)
on May 27, 2014, Dinkins did petition the Fourth Circuit
under 28 U.S.C. § 2244 for an order authorizing this
Court to consider a second or successive application for
relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. In re: James
Dinkins, No. 14-258, ECF No. 2 (4th Cir. 2014). On June
19, 2014, the Fourth Circuit denied Dinkins' petition.
(ECF No. 472.)
four years later, on July 13, 2018, Petitioner filed the
currently pending Motion to Vacate Judgment under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255, arguing that the United States Supreme
Court's ruling in Sessions v. Dimayct, __ U.S.
__, 138 S.Ct. 1204 (2018) renders the statute under which he
was convicted void for vagueness. (ECF No. 546.) As with
Petitioner's other Motions, the Government argues that
this Court has not been granted authorization from the Fourth
Circuit to consider a successive application for relief by
Dinkins. (ECF No. 550.)
Court recognizes that Petitioner is pro se and has
accorded his pleadings liberal construction. See Erickson
v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); see also Alley v.
Yadkin County Sheriff Dept., No. 17-1249, __ Fed
App'x __(4th Cir. Oct. 5, 2017) (citing Erickson
for the proposition that "[p]ro se complaints and
pleadings, however inartfully pleaded, must be liberally
construed and held to less stringent standards than formal
pleadings drafted by lawyers").
28 U.S.C. § 2255, a prisoner in custody may seek to
vacate, set aside or correct his sentence on four grounds:
(1) the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution
or laws of the United States, (2) the court was without
jurisdiction to impose the sentence, (3) the sentence was in
excess of the maximum authorized by law, or (4) the sentence
is otherwise subject to a collateral attack. Hill v.
United States,368 U.S. 424, 426-27 (1962) (citing 28
U.S.C. § 2255). "[A]n error of law does not provide
a basis for collateral attack unless the claimed error
constituted 'a fundamental defect ...